6 Fictional Fighting Styles (and How to Fake Them)

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1. Fighting style: Venusian Aikido

Where it comes from: Doctor Who

What it is: The eleven Doctors on the long-running British serial, while being of exceedingly varied temperaments, have all shied away from violence whenever possible. However, from 1970-1974, the third doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, became a master of Venusian Aikido.

Real aikido stresses self-defense while protecting the attacker from serious injury; the BBC’s time-traveler was no different. After defeating three armed men in 1973’s “The Green Death” the Doctor shouts, “Venusian Aikido, gentlemen! I do hope I haven’t hurt you!” before shuffling off to continue his adventure. At various times, the Doctor uses pressure points, kicks, throws, and even joint locks. While he never really gives anyone more information on Venusian Aikido other than its name, it proved more than effective at helping him out of jams even if he was a couple centuries old—he did only look 55 anyway.

How to fake it: Technically, the art is designed for Venusians, so you’d need five arms and five legs to really throw down. But from the looks of it, the Doctor’s style mostly consists of yelling “Hi-ya!” and tossing out some classic ‘70s judo throws and karate chops.

2. Fighting style: Mok’bara

Where it comes from: the Klingons

What it is: It wasn’t until Star Trek: The Next Generation that Trekkies got to see how the Klingons train. To be honest, Klingon Mok’bara looks an awful lot like Tai Chi. Practitioners use very slow, controlled movements intended to unify the mind and body, or to quote the Klingon Lt. Worf, “the form clears the mind and centers the body.” While Mok’bara can use weapons like the bat’leth and b’k tagh, the majority is devoted to Tai Chi-esque movement.

In the episode “Birthright,” a mid-plié Worf tells some students that Mok’bara is “the basis for Klingon Combat” just before taking down an uppity young Klingon who sneaks up on him. In a different Mok’bara class, Worf blindfolds a student half his size, tells her to defend herself, and then repeatedly knocks her down—to teach her what unfair means.

How to fake it: Seriously, it looks just like Tai Chi. There are plenty of videos online of people doing “Mok’bara,” and it’s really just Tai Chi. If you want a head start, though, listen to Worf: “First, you must learn how to breathe. Stand tall, as tall as you can.” Then, you just find a Romulan to beat the snot out of.

3. Fighting style: Baritsu

Where it comes from: Sherlock Holmes stories

What it is: Sherlock Holmes died falling over the Reichenbach Falls at the end of “The Final Problem.” Eight years later, Holmes came back having cheated death with baritsu, "the Japanese system of wrestling.” Using baritsu, Holmes slipped out of Moriarty’s grasp and avoided the fall. Strangely, this is the only mention of baritsu in any of the Holmes stories, and Sherlockians think that it should have been bartitsu, a martial art invented by British japanophile and expert mustache-wearer Edward William Barton-Wright. Barton-Wright hybridized judo, boxing, and fencing into his own self-defense method (the “bart” in “bartitsu” is from his name) much of it using a fashionable cane. Barton-Wright ran a bartitsu school for years but also published articles with wonderfully polite titles like “How to Put a Troublesome Man Out of the Room,” which sounds like a Holmes story in itself.

How to fake it: Even though baritsu isn’t real, bartitsu is, so you don’t even have to fake it. People still teach bartitsu in some martial arts schools. If there’s not a school near you, last year Ivy Press published Barton-Wright’s techniques in hardcover: The Sherlock Holmes School of Self-Defence: The Manly Art of Bartitsu—as used against Professor Moriarty.

4. Fighting style: Klurkor

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Where it comes from: DC Comics’ Superman

What it is: The Silver-Age DC Comics universe was chock-full of strange little plot devices that have been removed or changed since 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. In the pre-Crisis DCU, Superman comics often featured the miniaturized city of Kandor, the planet Krypton’s lost capital (because planets have capitals). Kandorians didn’t have Superman’s powers while in the city, so they developed a martial art called Klurkor.

Superman and his cousin Supergirl both learned Klurkor, but the style was most often used by super-girlfriend Lois Lane. Lois learned enough that in Lois Lane # 76, she calls herself “a master of Klurkor…a Kandorian improvement on karate” while beating the snot out of a thief.

How to fake it: Mostly, you’re going to use karate chops. But if you want to get serious, strap on some rollerskates and practice kicking people in the face. In Superman Family #198, Lois reminds herself and the reader about Klurkor just before skate-fighting some Metropolis Rockets roller-derby bruisers.

5. Fighting style: Omnite

Where it comes from: Logan’s Run

What it is: Omnite only appears in the original novel, not in the 1976 film. In the novel, all people have to be executed on their 21st birthdays. Those who run away (“runners,” get it?), are hunted by “sandmen” like Logan 3. Logan, like all sandmen, is trained in Omnite, a martial art built from many others: “From Japan: jujitsu. From China: kempo and karate. From France: savate. From Greece: boxing and wrestling. The finest points of each art were combined in Omnite.”

Let’s ignore the fact that both karate and kempo are Japanese and that French kickboxing is probably pretty ineffective.

Logan does manage to break out of an ice prison and escape a deadly robot with a Matrix-y Omnite technique where he imagines “there was no cell bar” before striking and shattering it.

How to fake it: Apart from wardrobe—foam-padded mittens, a short white skirt, and Michael York’s foppish haircut—the best way to fake it would be to learn a couple moves from several styles so well that you could effectively fight while on one knee, “the classic Omnite attack position.”

6. Fighting style: Weirding Way

Where it comes from: Frank Herbert’s Dune

What it is: Women join the Bene Gessarit, a politically powerful religious sisterhood of Reverend Mothers, by purposefully overdosing on melange (Dune’s magical drug-cum-oil-metaphor called “the spice”) and then mastering prana-bindu training, which kind of gives them superpowers. Prana-bindu creates mind-body unity that gives its users complete control over every muscle, so much so that they can contort in impossible ways or even bend just their little toes.

Instead of using this to start a circus, the Bene Gessarit created the Weirding Way. With the Weirding Way, a fighter can strike with superhuman force and speed. In Children of Dune, the Bene Gessarit woman Alia is capable of delivering “a toe-pointing kick which could disembowel a man.” On top of this, the Bene Gessarit have other powers that let them simply imagine themselves behind an opponent and move so quickly they appear to teleport.

How to fake it: Considering you probably shouldn’t try overdosing, this could be tricky. For the movie, David Lynch didn’t want to film “Kung-fu on sand dunes,” so he created “weirding modules” that turn voices into weapons. So, faking the Weirding Way could probably just be a microphone and some massive sub-woofers.

March 7, 2012 - 8:13am
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